Individual Ready Reserve: Five Reasons to Serve in the IRR

In today’s post, I would like to share some of my favorite reasons to consider serving in the Individual Ready Reserve.  Let me begin by telling you that the Individual Ready Reserve is part of the Reserve Component.  It is an “on call” force composed of former Active Duty, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard soldiers, officers and NCOs.

Soldiers receive NO pay for serving in the IRR.  But they can earn promotion points toward retirement, get promoted, and transition between services as desired.  Soldiers are “on call” and can be selected for deployments to fill shortages.  Also, soldiers can “volunteer” for Active Duty at any time.  It doesn’t mean they will get selected to serve on Active Duty, but they have the option to volunteer.

That being said, here are my five favorite reasons to serve in the IRR.

  1. Earn Retirement Points: As long as you can earn 50 points in a calendar year, that counts as a good year of military service toward retirement (Reservists).  You get 15 points as a member of the IRR, so all you need to do is find a way to come up with another 35 points.  You can do that with correspondence courses and by volunteering for assignments.
  2. Get Promoted: Yes, you can get promoted while in the IRR.  There are basic requirements that must be met, but it is possible.  Make sure you educate yourself so you can advance your career while serving in the IRR.
  3. Keep Some Basic Military Benefits: You don’t get the same benefits as someone on Active Duty, but while you are serving in the IRR you can keep your military ID card.  Also, you can have base privileges such as the PX and Commissary.
  4. Keep Your Current Rank and Years of Service: Rather than get out of the military completely, you can transition to the IRR and keep your rank and years of service.  For some people this is a better option than your ETS.
  5. Transition Easily: It is much easier to transition to the Army Reserve or ARNG from the IRR, than it is to get out completely and then try to get back in.

There you have it folks.  These are my top five reasons to serve in the Army IRR.  I’ll tell you what I used to tell my Soldiers.  If you have ANY doubt in your mind as to if you want to “officially” get out the Army, go into the IRR, rather than get out completely.  This gives you more options and makes it a lot easier to get back in, than if you get out completely.

The only real drawback of going into the IRR is that you could get called back or deployed.  Personally, I think the pros greatly outweigh the cons.

If you’ve ever served in the Individual Ready Reserve, I would love to hear your story.  What did you like and/or dislike about it?  Just leave a comment to share your thoughts.  I look forward to reading what you have to say about the IRR.

Just leave your comments below. Thanks for visiting.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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55 thoughts on “Individual Ready Reserve: Five Reasons to Serve in the IRR”

  1. HI,

    I have over 25 years in the Army Reserves. I signed up to have my GI Bill given to my children. I have 2 more years of obligation. Can I go into the IRR for the next two years to complete that obligation? Do those two years have to be good years?

    Thank you for you time.

  2. Hi there,

    I’m going to make this short. I was in the Army Reserves for 16 years. I transferred to the IRR and am finishing up the remaining 4 years there. I was on the HRC website this morning and apparently we can no longer complete correspondence courses for retirement points effective 3/2016. Does anyone know how we’re supposed to earn / maintain our “good years”now?

  3. I’ve been reading as much as I can about requesting a transfer to the IRR prior to fulfilling my MSO, but I am still lost on what I can do. I reenlisted back in 2012 and commissioned through OCS. Currently I have returned to school to pursue a different major to assist with my change in civilian career. Between school, full time work, and raising a toddler I feel like it has gotten more difficult for me to commit the amount of time and effort that I need to be an efficient officer. I feel more overwhelmed and just want to transfer to the IRR so I can get my civilian career and family life in order . Is it possible for me to request a transfer to the IRR now and serve out the rest of my MSO? If so, what are the steps I need to take?

    1. Kay,

      I’m not sure of the process. I would talk with your local S1 and find out what needs to be done. It’s been a while since I was “in” the Army, and policies might have changed over the past few years.


    2. Did your IRR request get approved? If so how did you write your justification letter?
      I am currently in the same situation you are right now. Thanks.

    1. Go to one of your reserve units and see if they’ll give you APFT test. Well I was signed to a reserve unit as active duty soldier we used to do that for some of the reserved soldiers that were trying to get back in but had failed and got out because our a bad PT test

  4. Enlisted in the National Call to Service program in 2007 for active duty Air Force. Did 18 months active, Air National Guard till fulfilled 4 years active or guard. Now in IRR wanting to go back AF active duty. How?..

  5. Blake Adam Harvey

    Can i extend my obligation with the IRR? I'm currently assigned to it, but can I add more time? how would I do this?

    1. This is a great question Blake. And to be honest with you I have no idea if you can extend your time in the IRR. Maybe someone else can chime in here and help you out.

  6. I am in the National Guard and would like to get out soon. I have 14 years total of active duty and reserve time in, so I am considering going into the IRR just in case I decide to come back to finish out the last six years so I can retire, however I am still confused about the requirements and it seems that no one in my unit including the S1 know anything about the IRR. I’ve read on the HRC website that IRR Soldiers still have to meet minimum annual requirements and can perform AT with the Reserve or National Guard Unit they are associated with. I still do not see anywhere on the website what those minimum annual requirements are and I would like to know if joining the IRR means that I will have to do anything with the unit or State I am currently serving in (I do not want anything to do with the National Guard anymore and would rather deal with a traditional reserve unit). Is it a requirement for me to attend drills or perform duty even if it is only for points? Right now, I need my one weekend a month and 5-10 hours a week I spend on emails, brief preparations, making weekday phone calls, etc back so I can do other things I want to do like spend time with my kids, finish another post-grad degree etc., so I am not looking to do the same things I am doing as an M-Day Soldier in the IRR as it would defeat the purpose of me getting out. I am just trying to figure out what the difference is and find out what these minimum yearly requirements are?

  7. I’m trying to go back active. Prior 92f… What are my odds? I’m less then six months into my irr.

  8. is it possible to transfer to IRR to finish out a 6 year contract to finish college? if yes, how do you do that?

    1. You would have to contact your chain of command. To the best of my knowledge you can’t transfer until you have finished your initial Active or Reserve time. Ask your S1. They should be able to help.

  9. Charles Holmes

    I've never heard of anyone getting offered money to join the IRR. If you go in the IRR and get deployment orders, I do not believe you can just return the money to get out of it. Just my two cents.

  10. Douglas Mensen

    I am being offered money if I join IRR after my enlistment is up. I do NOT want to deploy again. If I join IRR and get called up can I just pay back the money and exit the IRR?

  11. Chuck,

    I served 3 years on AD, and signed up for 22 months in National Guard. After a few months, I finally found and accepted a civilian job opportunity located in another state, that will require me to work overtime and some weekends. Am I eligible to transfer to the IRR?

    1. You would have to talk to your S1. It sounds like you still owe the National Guard some time. However, there might be ways to work around it. Maybe someone else can chime in here?

  12. Mesopotamicus Dubois

    I am a enlisted reserves. After serving 6 years in the reserves with a long and profitable career, I have decided to transfer to the IRR. The reasons for my decision are many. Yet, my contract expired in August and I am still required by my unit to go, even though I submitted my request to transfer. The hold-up originates from the Unit telling me that in order to transfer to the IRR I must take and pass an APFT. I have long felt neglected by my unit and I am disappointed at the turn of events. My motivation to stay in the reserves is beyond repair. I just want to transfer to the IRR and remain there for the time that I am required for. Can they hold me up with that APFT circumstance as my unit imposes? If they can't I have been told they can't, What regulation points out the fact that they can't and that they should abide by my request? After all I served my contract honorably and I remain willing to complete the remaining 1 year and 8 months left in my IRR.

  13. Hi Chuck,

    I’m a National Guard officer with about than 1 1/2 years remaining on my MSO (8 years active drilling). I want to transfer to the IRR once my MSO is up, as I will also be finishing up a masters degree and don’t have the time to devote to the Guard. What steps do I need to take to request it?


    1. Basically, you would just drop your resignation letter with a request to transfer to the IRR. It’s a Memorandum for Record that gets forwarded up your chain of command, up to The Adjutant General for your state. If approved, you will out-process and be transferred to the IRR. It isn’t all that difficult.

  14. If came out IRR and I don't like reserves can i choose to go back into IRR. The ncioc told me if I just stopped showing up I would get out back in?

    1. Steve,

      I wouldn’t just stop showing up. That can lead to some bad consequences.

      I personally do not know the answer to this question, but if I had to guess, you could switch back to the IRR. I was in the IRR several times during my career and there was never a problem.

      Thanks for the question.


  15. I think serving in the IRR is better than getting out. At least you still have options, can transfer easily and can build up retirement points.

    1. Rhonda,

      In some cases, it is better than getting out. However, every person’s situation is different. What matters most is that you explore your options and do your due diligence before you get out. Some people HAVE to spend a few years in the IRR to fulfill their service obligation. For those folks, there isn’t too much to think about.

      Thanks for the comment.


  16. When I “retired” from the Guard, I had the option of separating completely or transferring to the IRR. Most people who retire from the Guard transfer to the IRR because their retirement pay will be higher (Guard retirees don’t collect money until they are 60).

    One question I have: How can I take a Record APFT? I really regret that I couldn’t pass the last couple of years I was in. I’d really like to take the APFT again and clear my name :-)

    1. Joe,

      That’s a great question. If you are retired now, you definitely don’t need a record APFT. But if you want to take one just for the heck of it, visit your local armory and ask one of the full-time AGR personnel if they will give you a record APFT. I’m sure they will.

      I hope that helps.


      1. I have orders transferring me to the IRR, though HRC has me listed as Retired Reserve.

        Would someone at the Reserve Center or Guard Armory be able to submit a record APFT to HRC? I’m thinking this might help me get promoted?


        1. You could call them up to find out, Joe. I am by no means a subject matter expert in the area. I would visit your local armory and get in touch with the S1 NCO or Officer. They should be able to point you in the right direction if this is possible and how to go about doing it. Thanks for the comment.


  17. I have an odd military history: I served nearly three years of enlisted active duty in the Air Force, got out, went to college, went to Navy OCS and served nearly five years of active duty as an officer in the Navy, got out, went to graduate school, and came in the Army as an active duty officer for the last five years to the present. In all that time, I accumulated just over seven years in the IRR. I never did any classes or anything (didn’t know that was an option), so I presume I earned 15 points for each of those years. However, I don’t believe active retirement works on the points system.

    I’m approaching 15 years of active service, the wars are winding donw, and I’m thinking of taking advantage of the Army’s TERA (15-year retirement) program. Does any of those IRR months or years count for anything toward my active retirement? I have someone in my office who says each month of IRR time counts as one day toward active retirement, but I can’t find any references to back that up. Neither my S1 nor the people at HRC are willing/able to answer this question. If it is true, then I should have another 84 days of active retirement. Every month counts under the early retirement program.

    If you know of any references for this, please help!

    1. John,

      To the best of my knowledge your IRR time will not count toward your active duty retirement. I believe to have a good year for Active Duty retirement you have to have all 365 points (one per day), not the 15 membership points you get for being in the IRR. Please talk with your S1 just to confirm that. Thanks for the comment.


  18. It’s unfortunate that so many people still don’t realize that the minimum service commitment is eight years regardless. And that some of those who do, think that they are safe from deployment once in the IRR. I evaluated some IRR soldiers who had been called back to deploy and was always surprised how many of them had thought they were done with the military after three or so years.

    1. Good points, Laura. The IRR has certain requirements. Since the Global War on Terrorism began, no one in the IRR is safe from deployments or call-ups. I think most Soldiers in the IRR know that, but there are always a few who think they are untouchable.

  19. Hey, I didn’t know you could get promoted while serving in the Individual Ready Reserve. It sounds like a good option for people who can’t make the full commitment, but want to keep their military benefits, rank and years of service. Also, you make yourself available to help out in case of emergency.

    1. Serving in the Individual Ready Reserve is a great option for a lot of people. All of the things you mentioned are spot on. And if you aren’t 100% sure you want to get out, I always tell people to stay in the IRR until they make that decision. It’s a lot easier to get back in the Army from the IRR, than it is to get back in after you’ve gotten out completely.

      Thanks for the comment.


  20. I’ve seen rumors on the internet that in order to qualify for a pension, you have to spend a certain number of the last few years in an active or SELRES status. Can anyone confirm or deny this, and provide a reference?

  21. Many people don’t realize (even after signing their enlistment contract) that the minimum term of service in any branch of the military is eight years. If you do three years of active service and then get out, you will remain in the IRR for another five years. For the most part this is no big deal, but for our 2010 deployment my company (and most companies in the brigade, from what I’ve heard from colleagues) received about six fillers from the IRR. These guys had settled back into civilian life and were more than a little surprised to get that letter calling them back for another year of duty.

    1. You are spot on, Daniel. Everyone spends 8 years in the military with their initial contract. And you aren’t automatically separated from the IRR at the end of your 8 years. You have to resign from the IRR, or you will stay in the IRR until you do so. And while you are serving in the IRR, you can be called up at any time.

  22. I was a Marine and got out as a Corporal. While in the IRR I noticed I was promoted to Sergeant. I currently am still in the IRR. I’m thinking about joining the National Guard, would I go in as a Corporal or Sergeant?

    1. Danny,

      In most cases you go in at your former rank or one rank below it. In that case, you could go in as a Corporal or Sergeant. Sit down with your local ARNG Recruiter and find out what the current policy is. Good luck!


  23. I didn’t know about Individual Ready Reserve until reading this post! While it doesn’t pay directly, it sounds like something that would pay off in the long run, in that it helps rack up points which are helpful when it comes time for a promotion or retirement. This is a good option for those who do not want to train every month, but still want to be involved in the military in some capacity.

    1. The IRR is a great program Michelle. The only downside is that you could still get called up and deployed. But, everyone knows that when they enter the IRR. However, I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.


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